Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hero's welcome for Hudson pilot

The pilot who safely landed a jet in New York's Hudson River has received a hero's welcome in his hometown of Danville, California, BBC reports.

As thousands of people waved US flags and cheered loudly, Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger said he and his crew were only doing their jobs.

Officials honoured his family with a ceremony on Danville's town green and presented him with a medal.

He is credited with saving the lives of all 155 passengers earlier this month.

But the celebrated captain gave credit to his crew.


'Miracle' on water


"Circumstance determined that it was this experienced crew that was scheduled to fly that particular flight on that particular day," he told the 3,000 or so people gathered to welcome him home in the San Francisco suburb.

"But I know I can speak for the entire crew when I tell you we were simply doing the job we were trained to do."

Mr Sullenberger's brief comments were his first since he safely landed the US Airways Airbus A320 on the icy river on 15 January, in what New York Gov David Paterson called "a miracle on the Hudson."

The former US Air Force pilot and air safety consultant was the last to leave the ditched airliner after ensuring the safety of all passengers and crew.


Wife's tribute


Mr Sullenberger's wife, Lorraine, said through tears that she was not surprised by her husband's heroism.

"I have always known him to be an exemplary pilot. I knew what the outcome would be that day because I knew my husband," she said.

"But mostly for me, he's the man that makes my cup of tea every morning," she added.

Mr Sullenberger, 57, was also given the keys to Danville and made an honorary Danville police officer.

His first full comments are expected in an interview with Katie Couric on the CBS show 60 Minutes, scheduled to air on 8 February.

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